May 16 2013 12:00 AM

Transportation Review Committee makes no recommendation on Michigan Flyer expansion because of tie vote

Courtesy photo

Thursday, May 16 — The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Review Committee won’t be making a recommendation to the full commission on Michigan Flyer expanding its runs between East Lansing and Ann Arbor because of a tie vote at its meeting Wednesday night.

Michigan Flyer has received a nearly $600,000 federal grant to expand its busing operations between East Lansing and Ann Arbor. But the project needs approval from the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission before it can get the money.

On Wednesday, the commission’s Transportation Review Committee was set to vote on a non-binding recommendation supporting the grant and Michigan Flyer’s expansion. The vote was a 5-5 tie because of committee member absences, which means there will be no recommendation from the committee.

Committee members Russel Bauerle, Jim Osieczonek, Dianne Holman, John Veenstra and Dal McBurrows voted in favor of the recommendation. Voting in opposition were Roger Eakin, Ken Fletcher, Darrell Tennis, Ralph Monsma and Shirley Rodgers.

The main concern of those opposed to the expansion was that Michigan Flyer would hurt the airport’s business and didn’t help the Tri-county region of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties.

“I am very, very concerned that there is a danger to our airport. I’m not against the (bus) service, I think it’s a nice service,” Committee Chairman Darrell Tennis said. “But to subsidize it and take the risk of it harming the airport, we simply cannot do. The airport needs to be strong and stronger.”

Those who supported it didn’t believe a credible argument had been made that the additional bus trips would harm airport business and that people want more transportation options.

Committee members David Pohl, Carol Wood and Kevin Beard were absent. Wood, who has voiced opposition to the expansion, had to leave the meeting early and could have been the deciding vote.

The commission as a whole will vote May 29 on whether Michigan Flyer can expand by receiving the grant. The project must be added to the commission’s Transportation Improvement Plan in order for Michigan Flyer to accept it.